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My Thoughts on the Seven Words...

January 8, 2018

Recently, the current administration revealed a decision that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would not be allowed to submit applications for federal grants if they used seven words. That words are being prohibited is alarming in itself. But the words chosen for exclusion are quite telling. Let's consider each of them: 

 

Science-based. Science is about knowledge: seeking, obtaining, disseminating. Research, policy and practice which follows science, or is science-based, should be lauded, rather than being muted. 

 

Evidence-based. This is similar to science-based. What we know about the world is centered around what we have observed. The more evidence is available, the greater our understanding of phenomena we are studying. 

 

Diversity. Like evidence-based, diversity is a word I have used in my own work many times. Diversity means difference, variation. In thought and action, diversity allows for changes in perspective, a fuller and greater connection to each other, and more fair and equitable treatment. 

 

Entitlement. Entitlement indicates that one has a certain right or set of rights. For example, among other things, the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America guarantees the right of a person to practice any religion she or he pleases, and ensures that the government of this country cannot impose any religion on its constituents. 

 

Vulnerable. The term vulnerable is another one I have used a number of times in my scholarly writing. Vulnerable refers to an entity (such as a person) in danger of being harmed, whether physically, mentally or otherwise. When social workers speak of our ethical obligation to protect members of vulnerable populations, we are talking about those who are often exploited and rarely able to protect themselves. Examples of vulnerable populations include children and people who are differently-abled. 

 

Fetus. This is a scientific term for unborn offspring. 

 

Transgender. This is a term that identifies a person whose biological sex does not connect to the gender with which the individual associates. This is also a group that would fit into discussions about the terms diversity, vulnerable, and entitlement. 

 

Why am I concerned about the exclusion of words like these? An attack on such terms underlines an attack on: knowledge (i.e. fetus, science-based and evidence-based); self-determination (i.e. transgender and diversity); and equal treatment (transgender, vulnerable, entitlement, and diversity). It does not merely suggest, but directly highlights attempts to control what the helping professions are able to do or say. I hope that members of the larger population will not be deterred from using words like the ones discussed here, as well as terms such as: discrimination; inclusion; equitable; and justice. 

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